BANGOR, Maine — As city councilors prepare to debate hundreds of line items associated with the 2011-12 municipal budget, one item is safe.
The council unanimously agreed Monday to install all five city-owned docks along the Penobscot River this season and incur the estimated $44,000 installation cost.
“If we’re going to do it, let’s put the docks in,” Councilor Cary Weston said.
Added Councilor Gerry Palmer: “We ought to be open for business.”
As the city’s waterfront area gains prominence thanks in large part to events such as the American Folk Festival, KahBang and the Waterfront Concerts Series, councilors now recognize that many boaters want the option to dock in Bangor.
Last year, though, councilors were concerned about the budget impact and the reduction in service by American Cruise Lines. They decided to leave some of the docks on the sidelines. The move saved money but it also discouraged transient vessels from venturing up the river to Bangor.
“If we have fickle policies on things like docks, it sends a message,” Councilor David Nealley said.
The city provides a number of services to vessels once the docks are in. It does not, however, offer fuel, according to Interim City Engineer Art Morgan.
Palmer, however, said the economic benefits of water visitors to the city are immeasurable. Chances are, he said, they have a little extra money to spend once they dock.
“Let’s see if we can get ’em to spend a nickle here,” he said.
It was around this time last year that the city explored the possibility of turning over management of its docks to a private company. That never materialized.
For now, it looks like the city is prepared to manage its own docks during what is expected to be a busy 2011 season.